Dynasty Sleeper-Stud: Rowdy Tellez
The Toronto Blue Jays are going to have a rough time replacing Edwin Encarnacion after losing him to the Cleveland Indians in free agency. In 2017, they may be able to cover first with some combination of Justin Smoak, Steve Pearce, and maybe Kendrys Morales. Perhaps that potpourri of bats can be used somewhat effectively, but it’s not an incredible, solid, long-term solution. Luckily for the Jays, that amalgamation might just need to avoid disaster until 21-year-old prospect Rowdy Tellez is ready for the big leagues. If Tellez can keep up what he’s been doing, that day might come sooner rather than later.
Rowdy Tellez was drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 draft out of high school, but don’t let the late round pick fool you–this is a talented player. Tellez was passed on so long because of his perceived commitment to play in college at USC. He was a big guy coming out of high school at six-foot-four and 275 pounds. Most reports tell you he’s a stereotypical thumper with a ton of power and little to offer in the field, but he has worked diligently to drop his weight since then and he is now listed closer to 220 pounds. He shows great intelligence and self-awareness, improving his defensive weaknesses with the help of Justin Smoak, gold-glove winner Derek Lee, and Casey Kotchman, who is the all-time leader in fielding percentage.
Tellez shows his baseball acumen by attacking his weaknesses in the field, but also by his approach at the plate. He is loaded with power, but he knows that power is worthless if he’s not making contact and taking good at-bats. In his time in Double-A in 2016, Tellez slashed .297/.387/.530 with 23 home runs. He certainly didn’t get a .387 OBP by swinging at everything, and the 12.3% walk rate and 17.9 strikeout rate are atypical for a minor league slugger. If nothing else, this plate discipline may be what separates Tellez from future Quad-A hitters who have caught the eyes of dynasty owners with their flashy numbers.
The hard-hitting lefty currently sits ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Blue Jays organization and the tenth-best first-base prospect according to mlb.com. Tellez will most likely start the year in Triple-A. If he continues to shine there, Toronto just might have to open the door for him. His semi-clear path to the big leagues give a boost to his fantasy value, especially since he’ll only be 22 years-old during all of next season. He’s shown the ability to identify his weaknesses and actually improve them. Of course, I left the most important part for last. How could you not excel with a name like Rowdy? I think the Blue Jays might be getting a little Rowdy sooner than they expect.